‘I’m literally connecting people’

Russian translator and software engineer Michael Orlov tells us why he shares his skills on Trommons.

Q. How did you find out about The Rosetta Foundation?

I learned about The Rosetta Foundation from the language learning project Livemocha. Then I found out about the Translation Commons from the Translator’s Tool Box by Jost Zetzsche.

Q. What inspired you to get involved as a volunteer?

As I will explain below, it is important to me that people use the direct results of my work. And as a volunteer, I can see the real impact that I can achieve. Today, when the world is so big with all this globalization and all kinds of networks, it seems almost impossible to make a difference on your own. And volunteering is one of the ways for me to do so.

Q. Where do you live? What language/s do you work with?

I was born in Czechoslovakia but then moved to Russia with my parents. And now I reside in Nizhny Novgorod – right in the middle of the European part of Russia. I work with English, Japanese, Spanish and a few Eastern European languages: Slovak, Polish and Lithuanian. I’m also currently studying Portuguese and Czech.

Q. How do you like to approach a translation task?

At first, I need to get an overall impression of the text. I usually start translating and looking through the entire document – here I need some time without interruption. And then suddenly something snaps inside and I grasp the text in full. I begin to understand its style and purpose and, from this point, I can even break “the flow”. The text kind of becomes a part of me, and I can even turn off the computer and return to work later without difficulty. It begins to fade when I finish the work, but sometimes I need a day or two to fully “cleanse” myself from this impression.

Q. What gets you most excited about a translation?

Some time ago I realized that the most important thing in my work for me is that people should use its results. That’s what I missed when I worked as a software developer because I was never able to see precisely how my work results were used. But as a translator I can build a bridge between two people – it’s always about two people in the end. And the stronger the bridge, the more useful and convenient the communication. I’m literally “connecting people” and I like it.

Q. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not translating?

When I’m not translating, I prefer to be as far away from my computer as possible. I try to spend more time with my kids, to play with them outside or just walk the streets. It’s important for me to maintain a bond with the real world, as we are spending too much time in the virtual one these days.

Q. What do you believe is the best way to motivate others to get involved in volunteering?

I think that today volunteering is becoming a new trend. Many people have a lot of free time now and, instead of constant self-entertainment with mobile games, we can really make a difference through volunteering. Online platforms can be easily used to coordinate people across the world, so translation is becoming an important part of this coordination. You can choose whatever area you like and participate without even leaving your home. Or, on the contrary, you can travel across the world.


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